a woman speaking to her virtual speech therapist online via her laptop from home

What Is The Difference Between A Speech Therapist And A Speech Pathologist?

“Are speech therapists and speech pathologists the same?’ is a question that speech-language pathologists are asked all the time. The simple answer is that there is no difference between them, they are the same profession. That being said, one of the other titles may be more widely used in certain areas of the world, and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) used to be widely referred to as speech therapists. Now, ‘speech-language pathologist’ is the preferred term. The meaning of the word ‘pathologist’ is to find the causes and effects of something. The job of a speech-language pathologist is to find the cause or origin of a certain communication problem and work with their patient to improve and strengthen language and communication skills. Understanding the cause of speech, language, literacy, feeding difficulties or other oral motor difficulties enables the speech-language pathologist to identify and appreciate each person’s unique strengths and recognize areas where help and support are needed. If you want to learn more about speech-language pathologists and how they can help to improve speech and language skills, get started by scheduling your free introductory call today!

Is a Speech Therapist like a Doctor?

While speech-language pathologists are not considered doctors, they are highly educated and specialized healthcare professionals. SLPs often work closely with doctors, nurses, and other specialists and professionals. To become a speech-language pathologist one must have a master’s degree in their field and a great deal of clinical and practical experience before being certified. Speech-language pathologists also work similarly to a doctor in that they perform necessary tests and evaluations to identify areas of concern, establish a diagnosis and then work collaboratively with other therapists and medical professionals to come up with a unique and customized treatment plan for each of their patients. Treatment can include exercises to strengthen muscles or practice correct placement or movement of the tongue jaw and lips. 

What Do Speech Pathologists Do?

Speech-language pathologists work to prevent, identify, diagnose, and treat disorders related to speech, language, social communication, cognitive communication, and swallowing in people of all ages. 

“Speech-language pathologist” has become the preferred term because it best describes the scope of work that these professionals cover.  It also highlights that they are extensively qualified through education, training, and clinical experience to identify, diagnose, and provide treatment and support for pathological conditions of communication. The word “speech” is used in relation to the components of vocal activity such as phonation (the production of a vocal tone), articulation (the movement of the parts of the mouth to produce speech sounds and words), resonance (the general quality of the voice) and fluency (the timing, fluency, and synchronization of these parts). “Language” is the comprehension and production of words and word combinations, this includes the mode in which it is understood or expressed (oral, gesturing, reading, or writing). If you want to learn more about what a speech-language pathologist does or how they can help you improve your communication skills, schedule your free introductory call today! 

Speech-Language Pathologists are experts when it comes to conducting assessments, providing diagnoses, and providing treatment for people with speech, language, cognitive or oral motor impairments. The role of the speech therapist is to provide care that results in improved, restored, or maintained specific functions related to speech and language. Some of the most common conditions that are treated by a speech-language pathologist are: 

Phonological or Articulation Disorders

An articulation disorder is defined as difficulty producing a single or several sounds or regularly mispronouncing specific consonants and vowel sounds. Sounds may be substituted, left off, added, or changed. A lisp is defined as the inability to pronounce the S or Z sound properly because of tongue placement and is a prime and familiar example of an articulation problem. Many individuals experience difficulty with the R sound, often substituting the letter W, saying wabbit instead of rabbit for example.

Phonological disorders are a type of speech sound disorder but have some key differences from more common articulation disorders. Children build their speech and language skills by listening to and communicating with adults around them. As children develop articulation skills, some may have difficulty imitating or repeating all the sounds that they hear. 

Challenges Related to Processing Language

While speech disorders refer to the inability to produce sounds correctly, language disorders refer to difficulty communicating using speech, writing, or gestures. There are two main types of language disorders: receptive language disorder and expressive language disorder.

Issues with Speech Fluency (stuttering for example)

Stuttering is the most common speech disorder that affects speech fluency and is often referred to as dysfluency. The signs and symptoms of stuttering often include repetitions of words or parts of words and prolongations of words. Sometimes there is overuse of the words “um” or “uh,” which can make it difficult to hold a conversation.

Aphasia due to Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury 

Aphasia is a language disorder that affects our ability to communicate. It is most often caused by a stroke that affects the part of the brain that controls speech and language.

How Do I Find a Speech-Language Pathologist?

Connecting with a qualified and experienced speech-language pathologist has never been easier. At Great Speech, we have a network of over 50 specialized therapists who are waiting to connect with you and start you on your path to improved speech, language, and communication skills. Bringing speech therapy online means that attending your appointments is easy, convenient, and simple. If you want to learn more about Great Speech and how speech therapy could help you, contact us by scheduling your free introductory call today!